What exactly is God up to?

You may have noticed that I have not been posting much lately about saving money.  That’s because I have been saving a lot of money by not spending any!  Minus our vacation spending (and a little that I had to spend on clothes because all my stuff is getting too big!) I have spent very little money on anything lately. 

I don’t know what God is up to.  I don’t know what he is preparing Aaron and I for but I feel like it is something big.  I started this blog several months ago out of frustration with myself.  I was overdrafting my checking account, running out of money, barely able to pay the bills every month and felt like I was in over my head in credit card debt.  This blog started as my effort to be accountable for my spending and to share ‘deals’ that I have found here and there.  And while I still look for deals and still clip coupons, I have noticed that my attitude about money, about society and the rich and the poor has started to change.

It find it odd timing that I would find this song by Derek Webb, “Rich Young Ruler” and then read “Irresistable Revolution” by Shane Claiborne all in the same time period.  If you have time, and really you should make time, check out this you tube video that features the Derek Webb song. It is a little cheesy but the song is awesome.

If you don’t have time to watch the video, then read the lyrics:

“Rich Young Ruler” by Derek Webb
poverty is so hard to see
when it’s only on your tv and twenty miles across town
where we’re all living so good
that we moved out of Jesus’ neighborhood
where he’s hungry and not feeling so good
from going through our trash
he says, more than just your cash and coin
i want your time, i want your voice
i want the things you just can’t give me

(vs. 2)
so what must we do
here in the west we want to follow you
we speak the language and we keep all the rules
even a few we made up
come on and follow me
but sell your house, sell your suv
sell your stocks, sell your securities
and give it to the poor
what is this, hey what’s the deal
i don’t sleep around and i don’t steal
i want the things you just can’t give me

because what you do to the least of these
my brother’s, you have done it to me
because i want the things you just can’t give me

That song has really struck a nerve in me. In a good way. God doesn’t want our riches. God doesn’t want us to be rich. And yet if we live in America, even the poorest of the poor is rich compared to the world’s standards.  The Bible is loaded with verses about money and the love of money.  God has some pretty hard core thoughts about money and greed. 

I mentioned that I read a book by Shane Claiborne called “Irresistable Revolution”. I will admit that I don’t agree 100% with Shane on everything. But I know he loves God and I know he loves people. That is evident. He has got me really thinking this week about the Rich Young Ruler. If you don’t know the story, it can be found in several places in the Bible including in Luke 18:18-23. A young rich man approached Jesus and asked him “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This was a man who loved Jesus. He tells Jesus that he learned of God’s commandments as a child and had kept them. But Jesus tells him he is still lacking only one thing. He must sell all he has and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. The young man became very sad. Then Jesus tells him that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

That’s hard core! I like what Shane points out in his book. When the man walked away, Jesus didn’t call him back and say, “Oh wait–you don’t have to sell it all.  Just sell half of what you have”. Or “just sell 10%” (the typical Christian tithe).  Nope, Jesus said sell ALL of it.  Basically Jesus is telling him to rid himself of his wealth, lay down his sin of coveting and to follow Jesus.  And the man could not do it.  How sad a story.

The question is can we do that? Are we really willing to give up everything we have for Jesus? Our house? Our SUV? Our comfortable way of life? Aaron told me that he heard a preacher say that it ‘really doesn’t mean that we have to get rid of our things’. Well I think it does. If our lives are revolving around what we are going to buy next, around what type of car we are going to trade up to, around what major home remodel we are going to do next, then yes Jesus is talking to us and telling us to stop. Stop our greedy ways. Stop our sin of materialism and consumerism. And yes, I am talking to myself here.

And God is convicting me daily about that. I have been guilty of coveting. I have wanted a nicer car. I have wanted a bigger home. I have been in a lot of homes as a home health nurse. I can remember going into a rich neighborhood and thinking, “Wow, it must be nice to have this kind of money.” Now I think about those families and I am saddened.  How much of their time and energy is devoted to working just so they can pay their mortgage?  I don’t think that is how God intended us to live.  Working a job that we wouldn’t ordinarily work at just to make enough money to pay our mortgage.  Or our car payment.  Or our credit card debt.

I can remember a professor in college pointing out a verse in class that I thought hard about and have thought about a lot since. In Luke 12:34, we read, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Where is our treasure? Is it in earthly things? In clothes? In shoes? In makeup? In cars? In home furnishings? In electronics, computers, CDs? Where is your treasure?

For me, my treasure has been in lots of things other than in heavenly things. Over the last few days I have been cleaning out my closet. I have packed up 2 full trash bags of clothes and shoes that I don’t even wear.  And that’s just my summer clothes!  Some of them still had tags on them! As I was sorting through and becoming emotionally attached to some of the stuff, I heard this voice (God? was that You?) telling me, “it’s not enough.” I kept hearing, “Laura I know you have given away a lot, but it’s not enough.”

I found it odd that Aaron posted about the exact same thing I was going to post about today.  Like I said before,  I don’t know what God is getting ready to do with us.  But I can feel changes coming.  We have been discussing giving away furniture to the needy.  Cleaning out our closets and freeing ourselves from clutter.  Aaron has talked with our kids about getting rid of stuff, simplifying our lives.  Not because we want to say, “hey look at us–look at what we’ve done” but so that we can honor God and show his love to people who may not know. 

One last thing.  I am seriously considering signing The Compact.  If you have not heard of it, it is a commitment to not buy anything other than necessities for a time span of a year.  The funny thing is, this was something started by a group of non-Christian eco-friendly people as a means to help the environment and to send a non-consumerism message.  But I think they are on to something.  When I first started considering this about 2-3 months ago, I was freaked out by it.  I honestly don’t know if I can do it.  But I’m starting to feel like it is something God wants me to do.  And hey, who am I to say no to God?  It’ll be a big deal to me and my family.  I have always been a spender.  Always.  I can’t even imagine not spending money, that’s how bad it is.  It literally scares me knowing that I can not spend money.  I know that sounds strange, but it does.  So, I’ll have to post more about the Compact and what exactly it entails.  I’d love to have a group of people pledging to do this together.  Anyone interested?  I am thinking that I’ll try it for a month.  And then try to stretch it to six months.  Then maybe a year.  I am anxious to see how it will change me.  How it will improve my life and what things I will be able to do for God because of it.

4 Responses to “What exactly is God up to?”

  1. 1 Melissa July 24, 2008 at 6:32 am

    I’ve been getting joked lately because we only own one tv and have no gaming systems in our house. Why do we need those? Obviosuly we’re doing okay without it.

  2. 2 lsaufley July 24, 2008 at 6:38 am

    I know what you mean. It’s like every good American should have 2.5 tvs in their home and at least one (sometimes 3!) gaming systems. We have a Playstation that is in a drawer, not even being used at all. (One more thing that is moving out with all the clutter!) I’ve been pining after a new Playstation and Guitar Hero but I know it will most likely end up in a drawer one day too so I’m going to pass and just play on other people’s when I am able!

  3. 3 Melissa July 24, 2008 at 6:38 am

    LOL…it posted the last comment before I finished what I was going to say 🙂

    I agree with what you are saying here…I think as a society we do have our eyes set on more…more…more. We still trust in things and think that those things will make us happy or help us find fulfillment or that those are measures of success.

    Sure, we could probably afford a larger house with more things but we don’t need any of that. I’ve been convicted lately about living life with a more positive attitude and being content with where I am.

    I have to admit though that I am a spender as well and I am trying to be more frugal. I was looking at the house yesterday and realized it’s time to do another cleaning/reorganizing and gather things for goodwill or a yard sale.

    As to the compact, when you started this blog, you weren’t sure you could keep up with the saving mindset. And look how far you have come! I think you can do anything you put your mind to. I’m excited to see what God has in store for you guys 🙂

  4. 4 Heidi July 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    This is one of those posts that could create a lot of controversy. Partly because there are multiple interpretations of a lot of the Bible.

    Anyhow, I think it is great that you are really thinking about what God wants YOU to do. I think we often try to figure out what to do by looking at what other Christians are doing, which is not always the best way.

    I have thought about the no buying anything for a year thing. This is not the time for me to be climbing that mountain.

    BTW, I have been meaning to read Shane’s book. I knew him once–well, really my husband knew him better. He was on fire.

    It will be interesting to see how your journey goes!

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July 2008

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